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This article was published on August 1, 2016

Japan just got hit by a 9.1 earthquake… that never happened

Japan just got hit by a 9.1 earthquake… that never happened
Juan Buis
Story by

Juan Buis

Digital Culture Reporter

Juan Buis is TNW's Digital Culture Reporter, and you should click here. Juan Buis is TNW's Digital Culture Reporter, and you should click here.

Japan is well-known for its food, bonsai trees, and earthquakes. Luckily, it’s also the country that’s most prepared for the latter.

Their Earthquake Early Warning system is set up along the coastline and into the ocean, ready to identify earthquakes long before they hit the country.

When an earthquake signal is noticed on the ocean floor, television and radio channels nationwide immediately notify the public, interrupting normal programming with a graphic and melody. This signal is sent out minutes to seconds before it will hit an affected area, allowing people to seek shelter.

Next to that, practically everyone has Yurekuru Call on their smartphone. This app sends a push notification seconds before the earthquake hits the user’s location.

earthquake

At 5PM JST,  this warning was sent out by the Japan Meteorological Agency, only to be revoked seconds later. However, this wasn’t quick enough to stop the app from sending notifications to its users.

earthquake

Because of this, people checking their phones around the country were shocked to see an earthquake with the same magnitude of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake about to hit the center of Tokyo, with screenshots of the app going viral on Twitter.

Luckily it turned out to be a false alarm, attributed to ‘ocean noise’.

Normally the EEW and Yurukuru call are a great example of how tech can save lives, but this time it messed up. The team behind the app apologized in the cutest way possible:

earthquake

We forgive you.